Penguin Random House is publishing a new novel by Richard Flanagan, his first since winning the Man Booker Prize in 2014 for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Promised to be "a major publishing event", First Person is described as a sharp novel about truth, power and the nature of writing. It will be published in Australia in October this year by Penguin Random House Australia and in the UK in November by Chatto & Windus, with Alfred A Knopf in the US publishing in April 2018 and other countries following over the course of next year.
The book is narrated by reality TV producer, Kif Kehlmann, comprising his recollections how as a younger, penniless writer, unable to finish his first novel, he agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of a notorious con man, Ziggy Heidl, who has defrauded the banks of hundreds of millions of dollars. He has six weeks to write the book, for which he'll receive $10,000. But, as the work gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by the con man, growing ever more uncertain whether he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Ziggy Heidl is rewriting him—his life, his future. At the heart of the novel lies the question, what is truth?
Clara Farmer, publishing director at Chatto & Windus in the UK, called it "a stunning novel and a deadly ride", one that would leave readers "haunted".
"Here is a story of what happens when evil is close by – and Richard Flanagan’s novel unfurls with the flair and energy of a novelist at the height of his powers," she said.
PRH Australia group publishing director, Nikki Christer, said: "Richard Flanagan’s last book dealt with the past. His new book deals with the possible future. If you want to know where alternative facts, fake identities and charismatic charlatans might lead us all, this is the book to read. First Person will be a major literary and publishing event."
Diana Miller, senior editor at Alfred A Knopf in the US, added: "Richard Flanagan has given us a sly, razor-sharp novel about truth, power, and the very nature of writing. It’s a core-shaking commentary on the world we live in, and a book only Richard could have written. His command and range are on full display here."
Flanagan's sixth novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was praised "a magnificent novel of love and war" written with "elegance and force" by the judges when it won the Man Booker in 2014. Across all editions it sold 214,955 copies.